First of all, what IS RFID?
RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification. In short, it is a small chip. It is typically capable of carrying 2,000 bytes of data or less. The chip allows a reading device to serve the same purpose as a barcode or magnetic strip on the back of a credit card. It provides a unique identifier for whatever object it is related to, whether it is a grocery item, an item in a warehouse, or a vehicle. An RFID device must be scanned to retrieve the identifying information contained within it. However, that scan does not need to be your typical barcode scan. In the case of a car wash, it is a reader which sits above the car in front of the entrance of a wash.
A Brief History Of RFID Technology
RFID technology can be traced back to the days of WWII with Germans, Japanese, Americans, and British using it to warn them of approaching planes. While they didn’t know who the plane belonged to, it did give them warning to potential threats or homecoming of their own people.
Move forward a few more years and advances happened to allow companies to commercialize anti-theft systems. These systems were essentially an on/off switch. If someone paid for a particular item with the 1-bit tag on it, the tag would be turned off. Readers at the door detect the tag and sound an alarm if it was left on.
The first claimed RFID patents were received in 1973 by a Mario W. Cardullo. That same year, another entrepreneur by the name of Charles Walton received a patent for a passive transponder in which he used to unlock a door without a key. He eventually licensed the technology to Schlage, a lock maker, and other companies.
Adding RFID to Livestock
The U.S. government began working on RFID systems in the late 1970’s to track nuclear materials. This system was commercialized in the mid-1980’s and have since become widely used on roads, bridges, and tunnels around the world. This same technology was used to track cows and ensure the medication doses given to them were correct.
Through the late 1980’s and 1990’s engineers developed RFID systems with longer read ranges and faster data transfer. In 1999, two professors began putting low-cost RFID tags on all products to track their supply train in business. This essentially changed how people thought of RFID by linking objects to the internet through a tag. This was a huge change for business because it now allowed a manufacturer to automatically let a business know when a shipment was leaving and a retailer could know when the goods arrived.
These technology changes have allowed other businesses to use RFID for their own needs, as well as create solutions for many other fields. For WashCard, it meant having the ability for members to have another payment option. An option that was automated, and meant they could leave their credit card or cash at home.
In 1995, owner of WashCard, Dan Yarusso, first attempted an RFID tag which was the size of a hockey puck. They were hard to install, and expensive. Other attempts eventually led to the RFID key fob. It was a great solution for car dealerships, truck washes, and frequent car wash users. Today’s RFID program automates everything. Reading the tags, collecting the data, assigning the tags, invoicing and payments have all become automated through our RFID program. We’ll get to more of that later.
For a long time, business owners and corporations wanted to have something which makes their business easier to manage. As silly as it sounds, barcodes simply became too much of a hassle to keep dealing with. A significant advantage of RFID over barcodes is that the device does not need to be positioned precisely relative to the scanner. An RFID device will work within a 20-foot range of high-frequency devices. There is no direct scan that needs to happen in order for RFID to work.
Barcodes can be painful to use sometimes. We’ve all had that experience at the self checkout, or even with someone ringing up our groceries for us. If the barcode isn’t perfectly readable, it becomes a hassle. The entire check out process gets slowed down because of one bad barcode.
Imagine if all your groceries had a small RFID tag instead of barcodes. You could simply pass your cart by a reader, it would recognize all of your items, and then allow you to check out. However, it has only been up until recently that RFID devices have fallen to a price point where they can be used as a “throwaway” device. But how cool would that be! Grocery stores would be forever changed! All shopping would be forever changed!
RFID offers the capability to set up unlimited possibilities when it comes to payment options within the car wash industry. You are able to set up different packages with varying price points. This allows your members to have options when it comes to washing their vehicle. Our software is so robust you can limit the number of washes, how many washes per day, the amount spent, and so much more. Your unlimited program can truly be - UNLIMITED. Or, it can be quite limited.
The #1 concern - SECURITY.
There is concern in most industries having to deal with security. With WashCard, you can rest easy knowing your data and card information is secure. No critical data is placed on the tags to make it susceptible to having information stolen to begin with.
Much like a credit card skimmer, there are RFID "sniffers" out there. Similar to credit card skimmers, someone is attempting to get valuable information from the RFID tag. As mentioned, the only information passed between the reader and the tag is an account number. No critical information like name, or card number is ever passed through.
What’s even better, the tags used by WashCard are tamper-proof. There's no passing tags from car to car like you can with a card. Our tags self-destruct when they're removed from the vehicle. Makes it pretty useless when someone wants to try and wash their car.
On top of all of that, you can know your customer information is safe and secure. WashCard is PCI Validated (not JUST compliant) for credit card and payment acceptance. If you don’t know what this means, in short it means we spend a lot of time and money every year to make sure your customer data is never compromised. It's a passion we have here to ensure your business doesn't fall from one minor security hack.
Because barcode and loyalty cards are so last season.
At one point in time, WashCard did produce barcode systems, and we do still have a few of them out there in service. However, barcodes eventually turned into mag stripe loyalty cards and it seems the era of card-based loyalty programs is coming to a head, especially with the level of technology and mobile ability that is available. That’s not to say WashCard itself doesn’t support our card-based businesses, because there are still over 1,000,000 cards in use for WashCard systems!
More and more consumers want to leave the house without a wallet. Members are more likely to forget their wallet at home and not really care. They have other means to order their pizza, or pay for their coffee. Having an RFID program allows your member to never have to worry about carrying a card again and if you’re not quite comfortable with moving to a mobile option, this is a great way to give you and your members more payment options.
The reality is, barcodes are slowly going to be fading away as RFID takes place all over the transportation industry like highway tolls and subway passes. You certainly don’t have to jump in right now, but your biggest competition may be without you even knowing.
Business accounts made simple.
If you have ever thought about adding business accounts to your location(s), this is one way to simplify the process. Not only can you set up different programs and availability, you can ensure that business isn’t passing their card-based loyalty option to their family members, friends, neighbors, etc. So it gives you just as much security around your business as it does your customer with their sensitive data.
Not only are you protected from usage abuse, you can easily manage and automatically bill your members. As long as they have up to date information in your system, you don’t have to worry about chasing them down for payments. If they don’t have up to date information, it’s easy to simply turn their account off until they resolve any issues that arise.
It’s all automated.
From start to finish, it’s an automated process. Once a member has a tag on their car, your job is essentially done. You can peacefully know you are earning income during rain, shine, or snow.
A car pulls up to the wash, their tag is read, and the wash starts for them automatically.
If they try to take their tag off, it destructs automatically.
When it comes time for payments to be made, it’s done through our software automatically.
We don’t think an automated program should be hard to manage. We’ve built a program with that and mind and provide a solid, easy-to-use system.
unlimited doesn't have to be "unlimited"
Even though we're talking about unlimited programs here, WashCard software allows you to limit the amount of usage a member has. Whether it's the number of times they can visit, or the monetary amount they spend at your wash. You are able to limit it by day, week, or month. The possibilities with "unlimited" programs, are truly, unlimited.
You may want to set up a "10 washes per month" program. We can easily do that. No matter your limited program needs, we have the software to help you handle it.
You can also promote these programs to your own employees to have them sell more passes. Incentivize them with their own rewards to ensure you are gaining more monthly income.
It's truly easy as 1-2-3. You can set it up, and forget it! Contact us for more information on how to get this running in your locations today!
Finally: YOU MAKE MORE MONEY!
Time and time again our customer data has shown the earning potential of RFID is much higher than a card based programs. This is because even when you offer an unlimited program, the average number of times that person comes in for a wash during the month is 2.3. TWO times a month they're coming in. Yet they're paying you for 4-5 washes on average. There's plenty of data to show that even offering a 6x a month wash package gets you more bang for your buck. Which is what we're really here to talk about.
Once you get a member on your plan, they generally aren't going to back out. Their payment is automated and they simply forget about it. Adding family plans is an easy way to add more revenue as well. By discounting additional cards, you're earning revenue on members who are less likely to wash as often.
It really becomes a win-win for everyone involved. With WashPass, you have unlimited options for your unlimited (or limited) programs.